Jesus had much to say and he said it particularly well in what is known as the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). With disciples gathered around he begins with what we know as the Beatitudes, the blessings. Commentary from the Renovare’ Spiritual Formation Bible states, “Jesus is here contrasting the two ways of blessedness: the kingdom way of pure gift from God and the fleshly way of human attainment. The Beatitudes give us a radical inversion of blessedness in God’s order. Jesus takes those people ordinarily thought to be unblessed and unblessable and shows that there is something about life in the kingdom of God that makes them blessed.”
In our world today there are individuals and groups of individuals who are marginalized, disenfranchised, overlooked, and under-served and we often assume they do not have the blessing of God on their lives. Yet, according to Jesus, these people are actually prime candidates for the Kingdom of God. The pure gift of God’s grace is available without the need to claim any special status. Jesus’ ministry focused primarily on inclusiveness because he desired to leave no one out. And so should we.
I love the way the Contemporary English Version conveys Matthew 5:3; “God blesses those people who depend only on him.” This verse sets the stage for all the other radical blessings he pronounces in the Beatitudes. My friend and former pastor Mike Smith calls this the theology of the knees. “Only God can bring us to true happiness, and the journey starts on our knees. Let’s dare to live as Jesus calls us to live. May we humble ourselves and listen to him.”
As part of his sermon series on the Beatitudes of Jesus I featured original songs interpreting Matthew 5:3-12 musically. The result was a project entitled, “Words of Jesus—Reflections on the Beatitudes.” In the studio it was an amazing privilege to work with my friend Jon Conley, creating instrumentation and arrangements for the ten very simple songs I had written. And now my prayer is that these musical meditations will create space for listening to what Jesus taught us about life in the Kingdom and allow that to enlighten our worship and our service.